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A 62-year-old gay Sunnyside man who was hit in the head by two assailants while out walking at night nearly two weeks ago succumbed to his injuries Friday, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s (D-Sunnyside) office said.
Van Bramer, a friend of victim Lou Rispoli, has been urging the public to help catch the three men associated with the ultimately fatal assault.
The councilman had alerted the community to the crime in a news conference at his district office last Thursday and showed a picture of Rispoli in hopes any witnesses who may have seen him walking in the area had more information. Van Bramer said he was a friend of Rispoli, who worked on Van Bramer’s campaign in 2009. Van Bramer’s eyes were red as he spoke of him.
“He was a very, very strong man,” Van Bramer said. “He was funny, and he brought laughter and joy to us all.”
Rispoli was married to a man who he had been with for 32 years. Rispoli’s husband and family have asked to remain anonymous, although friend Mark Horn read a statement on behalf of them urging residents with information to come forward. The statement described Rispoli as a great conversationalist and a funny man known for his dinner parties.
“We find ourselves speechless with grief and disbelief,” Horn read.
It was unclear whether or not the crime was based on Rispoli’s sexual orientation.
Details were scarce on the fatal assault, but Van Bramer said a witness saw Rispoli walking and talking with two men around 2 a.m. Oct. 20 on 43rd Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets while another man waited in a vehicle nearby.
The two men then hit Rispoli on the head hard enough that he had to be placed in hospice care where he eventually died, Van Bramer said.
“All of us are devastated by what has happened,” Van Bramer said. “We have got to find the people who did this.”
His office said authorities were offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the men’s arrest and capture: $10,000 from the NYPD, $10,000 from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office and $2,000 from Crime Stoppers.
Horn said Rispoli was an insomniac and was known to walk late at night, but the family did not know why Rispoli might have been talking to the men.
No description of the attackers was currently available. Van Bramer said the men may have been in their 20s and that one of them was tall. There is no known surveillance footage of the attack, Van Bramer said.
“Some people may share our frustration that there isn’t more,” Van Bramer said. “We don’t know enough.”
Those with information are asked to contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. Information can also be sent via the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.
“It is difficult enough to know that we’ve lost Lou,” Van Bramer said. “It is impossible to believe the people who did this would get away with it.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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